President Donald Trump focused on two issues important to voters during his speech to thousands of people Friday night on the south side of Indianapolis—the economy and immigration.
“How were those jobs numbers?” Trump asked at the beginning of his speech at Southport High School’s gymnasium.
Trump was referencing the Labor Department’s latest jobs report, which was released Friday morning and showed that U.S. employers added an impressive 250,000 jobs in October and raised average pay at the highest rate in nearly a decade.
Trump told the crowd that if Democrats take control of Congress, they will take a wrecking ball to the economy and the progress his administration has made.
“America is winning like never before, because we are finally putting America first,” Trump said.
Massive #MAGARally����tonight in Indiana, thank you. Everyone get out and https://t.co/0pWiwCHGbh! pic.twitter.com/5jVFO6SIsz
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2018
The Republican, who is two years into his four-year term, also said that if Democrats are elected, they will weaken border protection. That’s been a key talking point for Trump in recent days as he references a migrant caravan headed for the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump claims the group is filled with criminals although there is no evidence to support that claim.
“A blue wave would equal a crime wave. Very simple,” Trump said. “And a red wave equals jobs and security.”
According to data released this week from SurveyUSA and the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, voters say the biggest issues on their minds now are health care, the economy and immigration. So Trump’s talking points were mostly in line with what voters are concerned about.
Health care has been at the center of Indiana’s U.S. Senate race, but Trump only briefly mentioned it in his remarks, as he reminded the crowd that he got rid of the individual mandate that had been included in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“So many people have thanked me,” Trump said.
Trump encouraged the crowd to vote for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun as well as the Republican candidate in Indiana’s 4th congressional district, Jim Baird and the Republican candidate in Indiana’s 6th congressional district, Greg Pence, who were all at the rally on Friday night.
Braun, who is hoping to unseat Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly, briefly took the stage during Trump’s remarks.
“My opponent calls himself the hired help," Braun said. "I think you need to do more than that to deserve to be re-elected."
Reiterating a point Trump made earlier in his speech, Braun referenced the Center for Effective Lawmaking’s rating of Donnelly as one of the least effective lawmakers because he has never sponsored a bill that became law. But Donnelly has been a co-sponsor of bills that have become law and has authored amendments that have become law.
“Sounds like the tired help,” Braun said. “Let’s make him the fired help.”
But Donnelly issued a statement reiterating that he voted with Trump 62 percent of the time last year and has "worked to bring folks on both sides of the political aisle together."
"I hope President Trump will return next year so that I can welcome him back to Indiana after I'm re-elected on Tuesday," Donnelly said.
.@POTUS mentioned 5 of my legislative proposals on stage tonight including Right to Try & my efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
I will always work to deliver for Hoosiers, but I won't be a copy machine. Please help us win and volunteer today: https://t.co/AX2dhcDvbw. pic.twitter.com/kGba33H9HX
— Joe Donnelly (@JoeforIndiana) November 3, 2018
Trump—toward the end of his speech—asked if anyone in the crowd planned to vote for Donnelly. The crowd booed in response.
“Not too many,” Trump said. “I don’t see any.”
Former Indiana University men’s basketball coach Bob Knight also joined Trump at the rally. Knight endorsed Trump in the 2016 primary during a rally at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Before introducing Knight on Friday, Trump told the story about how Knight called him before he had officially decided to run for president and encouraged him to do so. Once Trump was officially a candidate, he dug up Knight’s phone number to ask if he would campaign for him in Indiana.
“He’s been a great defender of the United States of America,” Knight said.
Trump filled the Southport Fieldhouse, which is the 12th largest high school gymnasium in the country and has a capacity of about 7,100. Some Trump supporters started showing up before 9 a.m. for the rally, which started at 7 p.m.
Cars were parked up to 1-1/2 miles away from the high school and lined neighborhood streets. Calvary Lutheran Church, which is about a mile away, was charging $10 per vehicle to park and was packed with more than 150 cars.
This was Trump’s fourth visit to Indiana since the primary election. His other rallies since May 8 were in Elkhart and Evansville, and he spoke at the national FFA convention on Saturday.
Friday was the third day of Trump's six-day tour across the country in which he is campaigning for Republican candidates. Before coming to Indiana on Friday night, Trump attended a rally in West Virginia.
Political surrogates for both parties have barnstormed the state in recent days, and former President Barack Obama will be in Gary on Sunday to campaign for Donnelly. Trump will return to Indiana on Nov. 5, the day before the election, for a rally in Fort Wayne.